Ok, so it is another one of those damned, annoying, bleeding heart, United Nations World Days, soon to be brought to your doorstep by black helicopters everywhere. Whoop-ti-do! What’s the big deal with World Water Day and why should I give a damn?
For starters, just review some recent headlines and ongoing trends.
1) With another year in an epic drought under its belt, National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) satellite photos reveal that California has only about one year’s stored capacity in it reservoir system. Strict compulsory rationing may be necessary but is being fought tooth and nail by business interests. One of the nation’s riches agricultural regions may essentially go out of production.
2) On the other hand in low-lying Florida rising sea levels caused by dramatic melting of the Polar Ice Cap are contaminating wells with brackish water and killing fresh water swamps that filter much of the state’s drinking and agricultural water. Meanwhile the ostrich-head-in-the-ground of Right Wing hero Governor Rick Scott just forbade all state employees for even using the words climate change or global warming. This week the first employee was suspended just for reporting those words in notes of a conference he was assigned to take as part of his job. He will not be allowed to return to work until he provides a note from his doctor attesting to his mental health.
3) The practice of extracting natural gas trapped in deep deposits by explosive fracking has been confirmed to contaminate aquifers in Canada and the U.S. Meanwhile oil pipe line ruptures have contaminated rivers and streams from West Virginia to the pristine drainage of the Yellowstone in Montana and a series of oil tank car train derailments have polluted other streams and wetlands.
|Many women in arid rural India have to carry water for miles. Clean water is also a woman's issue.|
4) Since the President of the Swiss-based Global conglomerate Nestles declared “water is not a human right” and urged privatization of water resources to be exploited for profit, pressure to make that a reality has grown despite wide spread public revulsion. Nestles and other water giants continue to pressure weak and sometime corrupt African governments to sell water outright or grant concessions even in areas in which drought is a problem. A bottle water company is threatening to sue a California municipality to exercise its “rights” to water before water utility customers. Conservatives around the country are urging cities to follow bankrupt Detroit and sell their water utilities to private interests who will then jack up rates and cut off water supplies to tens of thousands of dead beats—the poor. In Illinois newly elected budget slashing Governor Bruce Rauner is reported to be ready to urge his personal good pal Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel the sale of water distribution functions of the Metropolitan Sanitary District to private industry to make up for local revenues lost to state budget cuts.
|Advancing deserts threaten world food supplies.|
5) Prolonged draught across much of Africa and portions of Asia is accelerating desertification of broad swaths of the planet. The Sahara Desert now advances southward by miles every year. The result has been two decades of regional famines, dislocated populations and massed migrations across international borders, civil wars, and regional instability. The same trends in southeast and south Asia in much more densely populated and politically sensitive areas threaten even greater disruption. And the same trends of desertification now exist from northern Mexico through the American Southwest and Texas up into the Southern Plains leading climatologists to warn that Dust Bowl conditions could return.
I go on, but you get the drift. If this litany is not enough to get out of your easy chair and take action to preserve the world’s threatened water resources, nothing will.
World Water Day has been observed on March 22 since 1993 when the United Nations General Assembly declared the date World Day for Water. The declaration grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The UN and its member nations devote the day to implementing UN recommendations and promoting concrete activities within their countries regarding the world’s water resources. Each year, one of various UN agencies involved in water issues takes the lead in promoting and coordinating international activities for World Water Day. Since its inception in 2003, UN-Water has been responsible for selecting the theme, messages and lead UN agency for the World Day for Water.
This year the theme is Water and Sustainable Development with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the lead agency with support from World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), HABITAT, United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), The World Bank, and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA.)
You can learn more about the issues and what you can do at the World War Day website at http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday
My own faith community of Unitarian Universalists under the leadership of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is promoting water awareness as part of Climate Justice Sunday being observed today by many congregations. The UUSC also has a guide to action and resources available on its web site at http://www.uusc.org/water-resources-for-organizing-your-congregation-or-community
Time to get busy.